Rapper-producer Kanye West went on a six-minute, occasionally rambling rant Sunday night at the MTV Video Music Awards, during which he briefly discussed violent conditions in his hometown city of Chicago.
The “Famous” rapper, born in Atlanta, Georgia but raised by his mother in Chicago, lamented the scourge of mostly black-on-black violence that has consumed inner city Chicago.
“If you think about last week, there were 22 people murdered in Chicago,” West told the cheering crowd at Madison Square Garden, most standing on their feet.
The rapper, who was nominated for two awards Sunday night for his controversial music video for “Famous,” was reportedly given four minutes by VMA producers with which to do whatever he wanted. West ultimately spoke for six minutes before introducing a new music video.
“I was speaking at the Art Institute [of Chicago] last year, and one kid came up to me and he said ‘Three of my friends died. I don’t know if I’m gonna be the next,” West continued. “And it has to, you know you have to think like, you know when you’re a senior and it’s the last month and you just don’t feel like doing any more work? If you see people dying next to you, you might feel like ‘what’s the point?’ Life can start to feel worthless in a way.”
— MTV (@MTV) August 29, 2016
The 21-time Grammy Award-winning artist’s comments came toward the end of another deadly weekend in Chicago that saw 10 people killed and another 57 wounded in weekend shootings.
Among those killed was Nykea Aldridge, a cousin of Chicago Bulls superstar Dwyane Wade. Aldridge was reportedly shot to death Friday afternoon while pushing her child in a baby stroller near the Parkway Gardens neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.
West, who often puts his personal pain in his music, dedicated most of his verse on his and Jay-Z’s 2011 joint album track “Murder to Excellence” to Chicago violence.
The rapper sings:
And I’m from the murder capital where they murder for capital
Heard about at least three killings this afternoon
Looking at the news like “damn! I was just with him after school”
No shop class but half the school got a tool
And a “I could die any day”-type attitude
Plus his little brother got shot repping his avenue
It’s time for us to stop and redefine black power
41 souls murdered in fifty hours
During his speech, West also referenced his long-running feud with Taylor Swift (who was not in attendance Sunday night), praised his wife Kim Kardashian and compared himself to other titans of industry like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford.
Watch West’s full speech above.